The Winter of Our Discontent. In this case the phrase neither refers to the opening monologue of Shakespeare’s Richard III, or the title of John Steinbeck’s last novel.
Instead, it refers to we British Columbians lately, particularly those of us in the southern half of the province not used to months of abnormally cold weather. You can feel a grumpiness in the air brought on by winter’s grip.
On a recent Sunday morning, all of Metro Vancouver uttered a collective curse when we woke up to another inches-deep layer of snow in the month of March.
MARCH! These things are not supposed to happen here this month, let alone when the tulips are just poking up.
It is not only you or your co-worker’s disposition that lacks sunshine lately, but it is also reflected in recent headlines.
The electoral upset that put Donald Trump into the White House shocked nearly all Canadians, and perhaps forms the basis of our present malaise. What is happening south of us certainly has many wondering about the future prospects for trade, economic growth and even world peace.
Trump’s gleaming downtown skyscraper is now a constant reminder to locals of the reach of the man’s influence.
The atmospheric conditions may have shifted last summer, but the full wrath of La Niña would not be experienced here until December. Seemingly endless weeks of snow and icy conditions began to undermine at that typically unflappable B.C. spirit.
When Mayor Gregor Robertson tweeted his empathy from southern Mexico in December, the eruption was deafening from his snowbound subjects who were beset by icy sidewalks and slick streets.
The Mexicans would say, ¡Tú te tuestas al sol, y yo me congelo! (You’re toasty under the sun while I freeze!).
The city’s lackluster snow response during the holiday season only exacerbated the public’s orneriness.
High emotions were also on display when Coun. Andrea Reimer’s accused her counterpart Coun. Melissa De Genova of being culpable in the drug overdose deaths in the Downtown Eastside.
Reimer’s accusation may have set the bar even lower for council civility, but it pales in comparison to the revelations regarding bullying and hyper-partisanship by her Vision colleagues at the Vancouver School Board.
The extensive coverage of the Goldner investigation of the “toxic” work environment at the VSB resulted in a counterclaim by union representatives who say they were not properly consulted.
Then there was the uproar over the City of Vancouver’s new logo. The bitchiness of the backlash and the swift backpedaling by the mayor was my “aha” moment.
Our city has become like the lion with a thorn in its paw.
The Courier’s Mike Howell ascribes much of this sourness to our political leaders for creating “a city of crises.”
He writes, “We’re in an affordable housing crisis. We’re in a mental health crisis. We’re in an opioid overdose crisis. We’re in a homeless crisis. We’re in a poverty crisis. Our schools are in a funding crisis.” Howell says this is “the new normal” caused by finger-wagging politicians.
Notwithstanding the incessant winter conditions, the short supply of road salt, the general surliness on social media and the cold and flu bugs that ravaged my household and many others, can we just remind ourselves that spring arrives next week?
The fragrant blossoms of Japanese plum trees will soon cast a pink hue along many city boulevards here, while other parts of the country are still surrounded by snow packs.
Our patios will be bursting with crowds of people sipping local craft beer and B.C. wines. Our umbrellas will be put away, and bike tires re-inflated.
We have to sometimes remind ourselves that the poor weather here will eventually pass.
And in spite of the political grandstanding by some, B.C. has always and will continue to overcome its biggest social challenges.
We B.C.-ers have been put to the test this winter, but just like the warm temperatures our good spirits will soon return.
– Originally published in Vancouver Courier newspaper